TUBA CITY, Ariz. - On April 1 and 2 the Navajo Department of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS), in conjuction with Parenting Arizona, held the sixth annual Sobriety Powwow event. The powwow was the brainchild of DBHS clients who modeled it after the Gallup Sobriety Powwow, according to Theresa Hatathlie, a Lifeway powwow committee member who helps organize this yearly event.
The Lifeway Sobriety Powwow Committee is made up of different community members, including committee president Dennis Bedonie and vice president Terri Posey.
The Sobriety Powwow started on the grounds of the DBHS in Tuba City as a social powwow then moved to the Jr. High School where it became a contest powwow in the last two years. This year the event has moved to the Tuba City High School Warrior Pavilion. Much of the fundraising from the vending and the entrance fees of this event goes to a local organization such as the Tuba City High School ROTC. In years past years they have supported sports teams as well. Since the venue is larger this year the ROTC has been a real helpful presence in helping to keep things running smoothly.
"The powwow has been growing every year and is becoming very popular," said Lavonne Hatathlie who help start the powwow six years ago. Lavonne worked for the DBHS for 12 years until two weeks ago when she transferred to the Ft. Defiance area to work as a Medical Social Worker.
She says the pow wow is meant to be a celebration of sobriety to recognize sobriety of individuals and to bring the community together. Part of sobriety includes tradition. At the DBHS there is a traditional healer that works with the clients to give them a more traditional approach to recovery.
Hathathlie states that the committee works to get donations from local businesses and organizations, such donation of motel rooms from local motels. The committee also solicits donations such as water, fruit and other items.
Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler also helped with donations this year as well. "The DBHS clients even volunteer and come each year to thank the organizers and DBHS for their sobriety. The powwow gives motivation and recognition for their sobriety. Theresa works for the Boys and Girls Club and she says they are sponsoring the tiny tots division in the contest at the powwow this year," she stated.
There are different events throughout the year such as Red Ribbon Week and Underage Drinking and the clientele at the DBHS wanted to start an event to recognize their sobriety. The underlying message of the powwow is prevention.
"The powwow is getting bigger and bigger each year and the move to the Warrior Pavilion is welcome relief since we have outgrown the Junior High location [due to] parking problems and the crowded atmosphere. The message of the powwow is that media bombards people with drug and alcohol messages. The focus is to get away from that and focus on sobriety and celebrate life. We encourage the people to reconnect to their spirituality. DBHS has traditional practitioners as well as church organizations so they encourage faith based healing this is the basis of recovery," stated Lavonne Hatathlie.
Individuals were encouraged to come up to give their own stories of sobriety or thoughts on sobriety.
Terry Posey from Parenting Arizona says that much of their focus is on positive parenting techniques, which can also mean referrals to the DBHS or mental health or any other organization that may help with any issues that may arise. "We do assessments and home visits and establish goals. We try to help people to problem solve with parents by pointing them to different resources in the community. They try to help get families food by a food box referrals and in some extreme case if they are homeless they will assist in motel room arrangements for a few days until they are able to find family or someplace to stay. The real focus of our involvement in the powwow is to promote this as a healthy family activity. I bring my children to the powwow and we encourage families to come to spend time together in a healthy environment," Posey stated.
This powwow sill continually grows and celebrates sobriety in the community and people are encouraged to get involved in the yearly event in any capacity.